I wanted to enjoy this book more. It was an easy read with short chapters, but sometimes it gets lost in its own craziness. I'm not too fond of any of...moreI wanted to enjoy this book more. It was an easy read with short chapters, but sometimes it gets lost in its own craziness. I'm not too fond of any of the characters, although I have to admit I laughed considerably through some sections of the book and the plot, while convuluted, was enough to keep me interested. My favourite pun? The fact that ales were named after typefaces.(less)
I enjoyed this book. A first, coming into a historical fiction novel unaware of the outcome, so the story was fairly gripping. I found myself...more3.5 stars
I enjoyed this book. A first, coming into a historical fiction novel unaware of the outcome, so the story was fairly gripping. I found myself sympathising with Elizabeth, through all her plotting and scheming, was really a woman lucky (or unlucky) enough to fall in love with a king.(less)
I thought it was good. It started off well, the premise and the world of Draki, but it sort of lost steam as you went through. Surprisingly short. I t...moreI thought it was good. It started off well, the premise and the world of Draki, but it sort of lost steam as you went through. Surprisingly short. I think the thing that bugged me the most was the way they fell in love just felt a little forced. I hope they explore the world of Draki a little more, because I thought that was really exciting. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger though, so will probably end up picking up the next in the series. (less)
Much, much better than the first two in my opinion. Less action might not be to everyone's taste, but I found that it read like an elaborate chessgame...moreMuch, much better than the first two in my opinion. Less action might not be to everyone's taste, but I found that it read like an elaborate chessgame where different players made moves that affected the entire book and the actions of others. I also really enjoyed reading about the inner workings of the Swedish government (however true it may be). It was a really well thought out consipiracy theory plot, which, thinking about it, may make a reread of the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, more enjoyable than the first time I read it.
The book had a lot of new additions, but I have to say I liked the majority of new characters. I found myself rooting for every little victory against The Section and genuinely concerned when any of them were in danger. Lisbeth, who I have to admit I was not too fond of in general, I really enjoyed in this book. Partly because she gets less screen time, but also, she's at her best solving cybercrime and communicating via computers and word documents.
Notably, I enjoyed the courtroom scene at the end of the book that finally acquits Lisbeth of her 'mentally unstable' status. Arguments presented by Advokat Gianini were concise and powerfully given and it was nice to see the looming and tiresome Dr. Teleborian figure taken down a notch.
As the others though, the book could have used a bit of editing. The Erika Berger stalker plotline felt out of place in the book--it was almost like the author threw it in randomly to comment on harassment of women in the workplace, but I felt the ignored-schoolmate plot has been overdone and it never really tied in with the rest of the plot. Also, Mikael's 'romance', if you call them that felt flat and unnecessary. Yes, we know he's attractive to women, but he's really at his worst when in a psuedo-romantic relationship. Friends with benefits is probably the state that suits him best.
I would've also liked to know what Lisbeth was planning to do with her 2.4bn kronor, but I guess with rumors of a half-completed 4th book, maybe I will find out! A nice sequel and ending to a very interesting plot.(less)
I enjoyed the premise of the book. Taking Nicholas Flamel and turning him and John Dee into contemporary characters is fascinating. I also enjoyed the...moreI enjoyed the premise of the book. Taking Nicholas Flamel and turning him and John Dee into contemporary characters is fascinating. I also enjoyed the concept of the 'Elders' and how they are the old gods of mythology, which is a neat way of explaining the presence of them in modern times and being able to icorporate gods from all types of world mythology.
The book was well paced, the characters likable and the little easter eggs of knowledge really interesting. However, I have to say that I didn't enjoy it as much as other mythology-for-modern-times young adult books, like Rick Riordan's. I can't put my finger on it but it's probably to do with the author's writing style. It was less action and more description, and I just felt that I wanted to be excited more.
In any case, I am looking forward to the next book in the series when I get around to it. I expect that the series will get better with each book. (less)
**spoiler alert** The Queen's Fool, like most of Philippa Gregory's books, is an engaging tale of a young woman in history caught between love and dut...more**spoiler alert** The Queen's Fool, like most of Philippa Gregory's books, is an engaging tale of a young woman in history caught between love and duty. In this instance, it follows the fictional Hannah Green, a Jewish immigrant from Spain who works in her father's bookshop in London disguised as a boy. Due to a chance meeting with some famous historical characters and her gift of the 'sight', Hannah finds herself working as a fool in the service of Robert Dudley, Princess, then Queen Mary, and Princess, and to-be-Queen Elizabeth.
Hannah is torn between her instant love for the handsome Robert Dudley and her reluctant love for her betrothed Daniel, a fellow Jewish immigrant doctor. She is also torn between her love and respect for Mary and her love and fascination for Elizabeth, both of whom she becomes close confidants of. Throughout the book, Hannah's voice, her calm un-womanly-like demeanour, her determination to make her own living, her wanting respect as an equal from her to-be husband, is a breath of fresh air. She is spunky, strong-willed, but still remains completely feminine. I enjoyed her character very much, watching her grow as she slowly turns from boy to woman before us, although she did have her stubborn moments, much like Gregory's other heroines.
The reason I didn't enjoy this as much as Gregory's other books is that I find the circumstances to be unbelievable. All other Gregory books I've read have been told from the point of view of an actual historical character, therefore I believed all the situations, interactions, thoughts and emotions. The fact that Hannah becomes close to not just one, but two Queens-to-be, so much so that she heard Queen Mary's last words I found hard to swallow.
Also, I found her personal story, dealing with her father, her betrothal and eventual marriage somewhat disconnected to the rest of the story. It was almost as if I was reading two different books, one about Hannah the disagreeable wife-to-be, and one about Hannah, holy fool and confidant to the throne. When Hannah has to escape England and live in Calais with her new husband, mother and sisters-in law, as well as her issues with Daniel's son from another woman, I felt it was out of place. It didn't flow or add anything much to the story, it was almost just an interlude to an otherwise engaging tale. I would've liked to care more about her situation, but it was dropped right in the middle of all the political intrigue and succession issues that I felt it detracted from the true story, that of Queen Mary's struggles with her reign and marriage and Elizabeth's slow rise to the top, most of which we miss. Overall, a good engaging read, but not Gregory's best.(less)
A proper review to come. I enjoyed the book and I'm giving it 3 and a half stars. It was a well-written, well-paced read with a lot of interesting his...moreA proper review to come. I enjoyed the book and I'm giving it 3 and a half stars. It was a well-written, well-paced read with a lot of interesting history and science mixed into the usual supernatural fare. It sets up a lot of plots in the 40 day span of the book, which I am eager to see resolved. It was unusual but delightful to read about ancient alchemical texts in the same book as DNA analysis. It almost jumped genres, one minute reading like a vampire romance, then a conspiracy thriller, then a non-fiction history text, but this kept the book interesting for me.
What I was disappointed by is that I thought this was a stand alone book, and it turns out to be the first of a trilogy. This is something I wish the book itself would acknowledge (I only found out here on Goodreads), because I kept reading eager for a conclusion to find that the events at the end are really only there to set up for a second book. Granted that the premise and setting of the second book fascinate me, I wish I had been warned!(less)
I Am Number Four is the next in a long line of similarly themed young adult fiction. Boy meets girl. Boy turns out to be more (or less) than human. Th...moreI Am Number Four is the next in a long line of similarly themed young adult fiction. Boy meets girl. Boy turns out to be more (or less) than human. They fall in love. They eventually can't be together. Action and adventure ensues, along with a lot of heartbreak and near death experiences. The book is unique, however, in that it's told from the point of view of the boy instead of the girl.
John Smith, or Number Four, is from the planet Lorien and one of the last surviving members of his race who managed to escape to Earth. Along with 8 others, they make up the Garde, a race of Loriens who develop Legacies or special powers as they mature. John and his guardian Henri have been on the run from the Mogadorians, the alien race that destroyed Lorien and plan to take over Earth.
The story begins with John and Henri discovering the death of Number Three. Due to a special charm placed on them when they escaped from Lorien, they can only be killed in number order. This means, of course, that John is next and a change of identity and move to Paradise, Ohio is in order.
The book has a good concept, although it is better in theory than execution. John himself is a rather boring protagonist. He has problems like any normal teenager, but he always manages to get through them with little hardship at best. He is frustrated when his new powers develop in school and harnessing them takes daily practice, yet after failing once or twice he manages with ease. Part of me wishes that they had just started the story with John's powers fully developed as it would've taken a lot of the superficial development out of the way and got on with the story.
The only redeeming feature of the 'training' is it allows us to see flashbacks of life on Lorien and what actually happened to the planet. It was refreshing and imaginative and would nice to meet more Loriens and find out more about Loric life in later books.
While at his new school, John manages to make a new friend, a worst enemy and fall in love with the popular girl, Sarah. Most of the relationships in the book didn't seem to grow organically and everyone eventually finds out and accepts that John is an alien with an almost nonchalance. Sarah is also a relatively boring character (in fact, the only interesting character is John's new friend Sam), but John and Sarah's relationship was refreshingly pain free, and I liked that they had no qualms about being together and being in love. They stay 'together' even as John flees Paradise and I'm curious to see how the book will handle the long distance relationship. I did enjoy almost all of John's scenes with his mentor and father figure, Henri and was especially touched at the ending.
The action, however, didn't work for me. The Mogadorians were faceless entities. We are not told enough about them to empathise with their motives or fully understand their power and scale. They come out of the blue, wreak a whole lot of havoc and nearly kill everyone by transporting them into an alternate reality borne out of their special weapons. The last third of the book was a blur of chaos, fire and monstrous creatures and even I can't really fully understand how they managed to flee in the end. Six showing up armed with incredible powers and a kick-ass attitude did help move it along, although I fear that her arrival is the start of the ill-fated love triangle angle that all young adult franchises seem to relish in.
As a stand alone book, it was flimsy, but as the start of a franchise, it does a good job in introducing us to the setting and characters. The ending sets up the second book called "The Power of Six", which refers to either Six herself or the remaining six Lorien Garde left. It also leaves some unanswered questions, which is enough incentive for me to go pick up the next in the series. I am mildly optimistic that it will get better as the story goes on.(less)
The novel tells the story through the eyes of Beatrice Lacey, Quality daughter of the Squire, in love with the land, and frustrated by laws of the cur...moreThe novel tells the story through the eyes of Beatrice Lacey, Quality daughter of the Squire, in love with the land, and frustrated by laws of the current day. Beatrice lives and breathes Wideacre, a lush farm land in Sussex; she owns the respect of all the local tenants in the village, she is a talented rider, she is an instinctive and gifted farmer. However, Beatrice knows that she will never inherit the land, due to her elder brother Harry, and the fact that when she marries she will be forced to leave her childhood home.
So she hatches plot after plot. She conspires with a local village boy she may or may not love and sets a plan into motion which ends in the murder of her beloved father. She is wracked with guilt, absolves herself of any blame, and attempts to kill the boy. She only manages to cripple him, but upon finding out he is still alive and has fled Wideacre, she is haunted by his inevitable revenge throughout the rest of the book.
Her plots get more incredulous and morally sickening. She seduces her brother and exercises her power over him and the estate by taking advantage of his penchant for sexual abuse. She becomes pregnant with his child and convinces her sister-in-law to adopt it as her own. She then gets pregnant again and marries her suitor to try to pass off the child as their own. Beatrice also finds a way to poison her mother when she eventually catches her and her brother in the act. Eventually, her most elaborate plot yet leads to her downfall and Wideacre's and she meets her timely end at her former lover's hand as prophesized.
Even though the events were hard to swallow, the book still managed to grip me and I had to know what Beatrice's outcome would be. As a character, she is polarising. I feel sympathy for her and women's rights during her time, but I also feel disgusted by some of the extreme actions she takes throughout the course of the book. It is fascinating how she manages to rationalise her actions for good, but in the end manages to cause ruin to everyone and everything she loves. None of the other characters in the book were interesting in comparison and a lot of them fell flat and were so one-dimensional it's not even worth mentioning them by name.
The novel was written with a lot of attention to detail, although the prose at times was rather long-winded. The writing did reflect the tone of the book well, and you fell into Beatrice's moods with her, from her sunny happiness to her drugged stupors. However, I felt that it was too much of the same for too long, and as someone who is 'town born and bred', I couldn't truly connect with Beatrice's ache for Wideacre. A solid 2.5 stars.(less)
Room is a story told from the point of view of a young boy who just turned 5 about his life in 'Room', the only world he knows. The book is best read...moreRoom is a story told from the point of view of a young boy who just turned 5 about his life in 'Room', the only world he knows. The book is best read knowing as little as possible, because part of the beauty of it is the unfolding of the story through Jack's eyes.
The book is split into five parts (being Jack's favourite number), and the story peaks like a mountain. The first part is tedious and hard to get through. Jack's thoughts, and subsequently the voice of the book, is muddled and rambly. I found his wider perception interesting (such as thinking that everything that wasn't in Room was TV, and that the Moon was God's face), but his life, as you can imagine, is repetitive. It was hard to be interested every little detail, such as a spiderweb under Table, or what he ate for breakfast.
As the story progresses, and Jack and his Ma aim to get out of the unfortunate situation that they are in, it becomes decidedly more exciting. As Jack faces new people, environments and situations, it's really intriguing to watch his point of view expand. He is a curious, careful, smart boy and you end up empathising with him through his ordeal. Somehow though, the transition, both physically and emotionally from 'Room' to 'Outside' seemed all of a sudden too easy.
The story does dip right at the end, as we again are privy to Jack and Ma's routine life outside 'Room'. Right at the very end, however, is a poignant moment of reflection and courage, which wrapped up the book nicely.
All in all, the book took a while to settle into, but in the end it was a refreshing and unique read. I'm torn between admiring the clever concept and being frustrated with the style it was written in. The book has been highly rated and recommended, but after reading it, I don't think all the hype was justified. (less)
I haven't read a book that's made me feel that way in a long time. Would've been a 5, if I had liked the characters a bit more, but I guess their impe...moreI haven't read a book that's made me feel that way in a long time. Would've been a 5, if I had liked the characters a bit more, but I guess their imperfections were part of their charm. Great, engaging read.(less)
Seriously brilliant book, in the spirit of dystopian, young adult fiction. Incredible world building, concept and adventure. More to write when I'm mo...moreSeriously brilliant book, in the spirit of dystopian, young adult fiction. Incredible world building, concept and adventure. More to write when I'm more coherent, but definitely on to the next book in the series!(less)
Liked it a little less than the first two books, although I have to admit I couldn't tear myself away from the heartwrenching finale. A solid 3.5 star...moreLiked it a little less than the first two books, although I have to admit I couldn't tear myself away from the heartwrenching finale. A solid 3.5 stars and I wish the series would continue!(less)